Homily – August 12, 2018

It must have been very hard even offensive to the men and women hear Jesus say, what to them was really outlandish. ‘I am the bread come down from heaven. I am the bread of life, whoever eats this bread will not die…the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.

Who does he think he is saying things like this I have come down from heaven? He’s from Nazareth, we know his mother, and we know his family.

Again and again people demanded of Jesus, ‘give us a sign that we may believe.’ When Jesus announces himself as “bread from heaven” to these sign seekers he is presenting himself as the divine food that will satisfy their deeper hunger, the hunger for a life involved with the God who brought them out of Egypt, the God who fed them manna in the desert.

Jesus is the love of God made visible, made visible in his painful death on the cross. Jesus, our bread of life gives us the willingness and generosity to live authentic lives as Christian men and women to live our lives in the service of others, be they family members of friends.

Even today good men and women struggle with belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. How can this man give us his flesh to eat? That’s why we say right after the words of consecration, ‘a mystery of faith, ‘when we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim your death oh Lord until you come again. A mystery of faith, bread is more than bread, wine if more than wine, they are the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the food that gives us the strength we need to true followers of him who is always there for us and asks us to be there for others; family members, friends and strangers.

Recently Pope Francis shared these thoughts at the Angelus in St. Peter’s square, ‘As we are nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, we are assimilated with him; we receive his love within us, not to hold it back selfishly, but rather to share it with others. … Indeed in it we contemplate Jesus, Bread broken and offered, Blood poured out for our salvation. It is a presence which … ignites the desire to make ourselves, too, in union with Christ, bread broken and blood poured out for our brothers and sisters.

Because we receive communion so regularly we can take for granted the wonderful gift the Eucharist is and fail to grasp the mystery of it all – he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me and I live in him/her. We know when we eat our bodies change that food into us, it in changes into our blood, our bones, our muscles. In the Eucharist it is just the opposite, we become what we receive. Ideally we become more Christ like in the way we receive people into our lives, in the way we feel one with the good men and women and children who were the victims of violence on Yonge St. the Danforth and Fredericton. Ideally we become more Christ like by rejecting prejudice and bigotry, we become more Christ like when we welcome people seeking shelter from violence and war. We become more Christ like when we support just wages, affordable housing and proper health care for our seniors.

As we continue to celebrate our Eucharist we pray for ourselves and for each other that when received holy communion we will leave this church more Christ like than when we arrived knowing that ‘ he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood live in me and I live in him, I live in her.